A ROGUE trader has been jailed for more than a year after charging homeowners up to 17 times the going rate for roofing jobs.
Terry Watson Rogers, 27, of Yarm Road, Darlington, traded as UK Everest Ltd but had no connection to the well-known national home improvement company Everest Ltd.
Rogers was yesterday sentenced to 13 months imprisonment at Leeds Crown Court. He was also banned as a director for five years and has agreed to pay £20,000 in compensation.
He had pleaded guilty to eight unfair trading offences at a previous hearing in January.
The conviction was secured by the West Yorkshire Financial Exploitation and Abuse Team (WYFEAT), a partnership between West Yorkshire Trading Standards, West Yorkshire Police, Adult Social Care professionals and supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, with the aim of tackling rogue traders who prey on the vulnerable.
The conviction followed a joint investigation between WYFEAT and the police’s Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Organised Crime Unit.
The offences took place between May 2015 and December 2015.
Rogers used the company name UK Everest Ltd to make customers believe they were dealing with the well-known national company and his glossy leaflets said 'Think Best, Think UK Everest' and 'Say no to cowboy builders'.
All the complainants who contacted Trading Standards said they thought they had dealt with the well-known national company.
Rogers initially quoted for work to be carried out to fascias, soffits and guttering but once work began, additional defects would be found with the roof which would cause the cost to dramatically escalate.
Customers would find their roof had been stripped and felt they had no other option but to agree to the extra work.
One customer was initially quoted £3,695 but the price increased to £20,695 once the work began.
An expert who inspected the work confirmed that the work was entirely unnecessary and complainants had been overcharged by between four and 17 times the going rate.
The court heard how Rogers travelled around the country to carry out work and that complaints were received from seven people in West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and the North East who lost just under £30,000 between them.
Giles Bridge, prosecuting on behalf of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, told the court that many of the complainants were elderly, had suffered financial losses and felt embarrassed that they had fallen victim to the crimes.
After the sentencing, Linda Davis, head of the WYFEAT taskforce, said: "The victims in this case have received justice, both in the form of an immediate custodial sentence and compensation towards their financial losses. This strong result should act as a warning to other rogues that their behaviour will not be tolerated in West Yorkshire."
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Rogers' actions were completely unacceptable and I welcome the outcome at court which will hopefully give his victims some form of closure. People like Rogers are every homeowner’s worst nightmare when they use a ‘tradesperson’ and their actions then also unfairly affect consumer confidence for reputable tradespeople."
Councillor Jo Hepworth, chairman of the body which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said: "This case is another excellent result for WYFEAT and highlights the unfair practices that rogue traders will use against unsuspecting consumers.
"Rogers used a company name and advertising phrases similar to those of a well-known national company in order to trick consumers into believing they were dealing with the real company.
"I would advise consumers to do their research before employing traders to check that they are legitimate and to seek advice if the price of the work suddenly escalates.
"Anyone seeking advice on home improvements or doorstep sales should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service Helpline on 03454 04 05 06."